Sometimes in our efforts to solve a problem, we create another hardship; often by refusing to correct the main issue.
Last week’s $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill largely fits that description, forcing me to vote against its passage.
I certainly appreciate the bill’s avoidance of another unwanted and unnecessary federal government shutdown. Nevertheless, in its attempts to expand specific programs, the bill slashes retirement benefits for our country’s military veterans.
I find this precedent troubling of burdening veterans with Congress’ inability to address its spending problem.
For example, the cuts—which take effect December 2015—will hit more than 80 percent of all veterans, according to the Congressional Research Service. Enlisted servicemen and women may lose, at minimum, more than $70,000 over a 20-year period. Meanwhile, commissioned officers may face nearly $125,000 in lost compensation.
And, yet, Congress is OK with these cuts?
These servicemen and women have placed and continue to place their life in harm’s way each day to protect the freedoms and liberty we enjoy. They deserve better from the government they protect.
Some of my colleagues say Congress will fix the issue in two years before the cuts have any serious impact. While I’ll do everything I can so we follow through on this pledge, I’m skeptical whether this fight reaches the forefront again. Congress’ recent actions have shown an inability to make good on pledges not backed with tangible results.
So, I believe the time to act is now. The federal government must be more judicious with how it spends taxpayers’ hard-earned money. Rather than cutting funds for our country’s protectors, forcing Congress to act responsibly through permanent spending controls would greatly help repair its reputation among the American public.
Sadly, many congressional members have shown an unwillingness to correct our country’s spending habits. When pressed with a big decision, Congress either looks to increase taxes or capture revenue from entitlement reforms to finance more debt and deficit spending.
Congress must start with recognizing it has a spending problem that needs a permanent fix. Only then will it correct our nation’s budget problem.
On Monday, our country celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose mission of love, justice, and equality rings true today. Dr. King once said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Since his death more than 45 years ago, that statement still applies and will never change. The time is right for Congress to do what is right.